However, as India gradually unlocks, more and more people are ready to step out and explore hidden gems in the country and thereby, turning to domestic travel as the new normal — while ensuring personal safety and hygiene.
According to OYO Hotels & Homes, after staying homebound for months on end, this Deepavali, Indians are preferring inter-state road trips and beach destinations.
According to the platforms Deepavali booking trends, Jaipur, Kerala, Goa, Visakhapatnam, and Varanasi top the charts as the most popular leisure destinations among travellers. The data further highlights Jaipur to be the most popular choice among travellers across North India, with an influx of tourists from nearby cities like Delhi NCR and Lucknow.
Across South India, travellers from Chennai and Bangalore are heading out on road trips to Kochi in Kerala, the southwest coast of India. Goa, India's beach capital, on the other hand, is attracting travellers from across the country. The majority of bookings are from Pune, followed by Bangalore and Hyderabad.
As per the overall travel trends across India, between April 2020 and September 2020, observe an uptick in bookings across business destinations including Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata. On the other hand, among leisure cities, OYO's booking data also highlights that some cities like Shimla, Manali, Munnar, Ooty and Gangtok that didn't enjoy high demand compared to other tourist hotspots during pre-COVID days are now increasingly showing positive signs of rising bookings since September 2020.
In Shimla, it observed a whopping 280 percent month-on-month growth in bookings for September 2020. Additionally, according to its recent consumer survey, while there's a surge in demand for leisure travel across the country, 80 percent of users are searching for sanitised stays, while 46 percent of users seek regulation related information while planning their next travel.
Commenting on this trend, Harshit Vyas, SVP & COO - Franchise Business, OYO India & South Asia, said: "The festive season combined with gradual unlocks has resulted in a surge in leisure travel since September 2020. As states open up their borders to welcome tourists, OYO and the entire hospitality industry, continue to offer safe experiences that lead to rising consumer confidence among travellers. As per our Deepavali booking trends, with social distancing becoming a way of life and people opting for safer travel options, road trips are here to stay, therefore, leading to an increase in inter-state travel during Deepavali and the upcoming holiday season this year. We expect leisure destinations to continue gaining momentum in the coming months with rising consumer optimism for travel. We would also like to express our gratitude towards our asset partners and all employees who have worked tirelessly to ensure that we stand ready to welcome travellers safely once again."